The Differences Between Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents

Accidents on the roads, highways, and byways in the U.S. are frequent. There were 5,250,837 motor vehicle accidents in 2020 according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Commercial trucks and passenger cars are responsible for many of those accidents.

However, semi-trucks tend to do more damage than cars due to the size difference of these vehicles, even when similar factors such as speed, road conditions, and area of impact are accounted for.

Overall, 18-wheeler accidents tend to be more complex and dangerous than passenger car accidents. With that in mind, here are five differences of which to be aware.

5 Differences Between Truck Accidents and Car Accidents

1. Damage — Trucks typically cause more damage than cars because of their size. A truck may weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, while a car rarely weighs more than 4,000 pounds.

In fact, there are more fatal crashes involving light and heavy trucks than passenger car accidents, despite passenger cars outnumbering light and heavy trucks in the U.S.

2. Causes — Driver fatigue, speeding, overloaded or improperly loaded cargo, and insufficient maintenance are all factors that often cause truck accidents. Car accidents tend to be mostly caused by reckless, drunk, and distracted driving.

3. Insurance cost — Insurance coverage for commercial trucks is typically higher than for passenger cars because of the increased risk of severe damage and injuries in tractor-trailer accidents.

4. Stopping distance — It is more difficult for commercial truck drivers to avoid accidents due to their size and weight. They require more time and distance than a much smaller passenger car to come to a complete stop.

5. Training — Car drivers can be trained by any legally licensed driver. Commercial truck drivers must undergo extensive training and licensing requirements.

Laws and Regulations for Commercial Trucks

Truck driver poses in front of 18-wheelerCommercial trucks are held to stricter regulations than passenger cars.

Trucking companies must stay up to date on all applicable regulations to ensure continued compliance and avoid penalties.

The following regulations were created to promote safety on the roads. Commercial truck and driver regulations include:

  • Hours of Service — This limits the time drivers can be on duty and helps reduce driver fatigue.
  • Size/Weight — There are maximum height, width, length and weight limits for various truck types.
  • Maintenance Requirements — Vehicle maintenance intervals must be adhered to; this keeps trucks safe for the road.
  • Commercial Driver’s License — This special licensure is required to operate a commercial truck. It certifies a driver is trained and legally able to operate the vehicle.

Personal injury lawyers often reference these federal regulations when working on a truck accident injury case. Michael Timberlake explains more in the video below.

In Alabama, there were 129,945 crashes involving passenger cars in 2020 according to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ADOT). This resulted in 36,204 injuries.

Surprisingly, the number of injuries in truck accidents is less than in car accidents. This might be attributed to the strict laws and regulations placed on the operators and owners of commercial trucks.

For the same year, ADOT reported 8,882 accidents involving commercial trucks weighing over 10,001 pounds. Those crashes resulted in 1,580 injuries.

The Added Complications of Truck Accident Claims

Liability adds to the complexity of truck accident claims.

In addition to the driver, other parties, such as the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, and the company responsible for loading the cargo could all be held liable.

In a car accident, liability is generally limited to the drivers of the vehicles involved.

Following a truck accident, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible because you may have to deal with multiple parties and the lawyers of those individual parties.

A truck accident lawyer will help gather evidence, navigate the claims process, and negotiate a settlement.

Whether you or a loved one have been involved in a car or commercial truck accident, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who will help protect your rights. Contact the office of Timberlake & League. We can help.

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